New Age Guidelines for Diagnosing Children with ADHD

Imagine not being able to sit long enough to read for a few minutes. Or trying to listen to someone talk to you but losing all focus because a bird flew past your window. For a child who has attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, regular activities at home and in school can be stressful and sometimes even scary.

For years, doctors have told parents a proper diagnosis cannot be made until a child is at least 6 and no older than 12. But new evidence “makes it possible to diagnose and manage ADHD in children from ages 4 to 14,” according to a news release from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

ADHD, a neurobehavioral disorder, affects about 8 percent of children and youth, according to the academy. Children who have ADHD show one or more of three major symptoms: inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity.

“Treating children at a young age is important, because when we can identify them earlier and provide appropriate treatment, we can increase their chances of succeeding in school,” said Dr. Mark Wolraich, in the release. Wolraich is the lead author of a report about guidelines for diagnosing, evaluating and treating children and teens with ADHD.

According to the AAP guidelines, doctors should first try behavioral interventions for children ages 4 and 5. If they don’t show significant improvement, a low dose of the stimulant methylphenidate may be considered, according to the AAP.

To help parents understand the symptoms of ADHD, the AAP has more information online.

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